Frequency Week 4 . Sleep

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There’s a secret ingredient when it comes to tuning into our Guide. Something you do every day, but if you miss the power of it, it’s going to be harder to hear your Guide.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Today we are talking about sleep, more specifically, why we should view sleep as a spiritual discipline. When you hear, “spiritual discipline” most of us think of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, going to church and so on. Often what happens, is people don’t do those things because they think they don’t have enough time.

The reason we don’t pray or read the Bible, is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that when we do have the time, we don’t have enough energy.

Reading the Bible, praying and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life is hard. If you’re not well rested, if you’re tired, you can’t even do it. You can’t have a serious conversation or read challenging material while you’re tired.

You simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of ways you can live on a sleep deficit. You can live a successful career life on a sleep deficit or a life of accomplishment on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of activities you can do on a sleep deficit. You can watch TV, check email and check things off your to-do list when you’re tired. Connecting with God is one thing you can’t do when you are tired.

God wants us to follow Him. God wants to meet with us, and we can’t stay awake.

There’s a chance to make real spiritual progress, but we’re too tired, so we do a lower activity, a less important activity.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

The Psalmist uses the word “vain” three times. Why is this lifestyle of getting up early and staying up late and getting as little sleep as you can, vain according to the psalmist?

There are things in our lives, in this broken world that fight against sleep, like kids, school, jobs, health problems or physical pain.

The psalmist here, is talking about a mindset that says, “I’m going to disregard sleep, I’m not going to value it, I’m not going to recognize it as a gift from God and I’m going to try and get by on as little as possible.”


Why is Trying to Sleep as Little as Possible, Vain?

1. All the big stuff is out of your control.

God is in control of all the big stuff. That’s what He means when He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s in vain.” 

You can work as hard as you want, but at the end of the day if God doesn’t want the house to stand, it’s not going to stand.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

The mindset of the person who tries to get as little sleep as possible is, “It all depends on me.”

We start to believe that it’s all up to us. That if we don’t keep working harder and harder every day and every week, we are going to fall behind and are not going to have enough. All of the big stuff is out of your control anyway.

If God wants it there, it’ll be there. If God doesn’t want it, it won’t be there. That’s the first reason why it is vain and pointless, to sleep as little as possible.

2. Even if you are successful, you’ll be eating the bread of anxious toil.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil…” Psalm 127:2 ESV

The bread of anxious toil doesn’t taste very good. This is the human problem. We accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We live in the neighborhood we wanted to live in, we build the house we want to live in, the perfect job that fulfills all our passions and somehow it doesn’t feel the way we thought it would feel.

It doesn’t matter if you get everything you want if you’re so anxious and tired all the time that you can’t enjoy it.

If you have this attitude of, “It all depends on me,” who cares if you reach all your goals, because you will just be eating the bread of anxious toil.

3. It’s massively counterproductive.

Productivity is not the number of things you get done. Productivity is doing the right things.

When you are tired, you won’t know what to say no to. You won’t have the right perspective. When you’re tired you have no self-disciplines and your emotions are out of control. It takes rest to decide what the right things are and you can’t do those things when you’re tired.

So many people experience relapse because they were so tired of the fight. It’s hard to fight against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, food, affairs and all those things, when you’re tired. Instead of moving forward, we relapse and do things that reverse our progress.

We’re talking about vanity, and the sense of it being pointless. The other meaning of the word vain is concerned with appearances, pride. That applies here too. We brag about the little sleep we get like we’re stronger than others and the Bible says that’s just vanity.

You can brag about it all you want and tell yourself you’re getting more done, but it’s vanity.


How to Sleep More and Better

More and more people’s sleep is being aided by some type of pill or some other form of sleep inducement. There are all sorts of articles online and in magazines with practical tips on how to sleep more and better. Things like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, room temperature, make sure to work hard during the day so you’re actually tired at night.

All of that can help, but today, let’s focus on the spiritual side of getting more sleep, getting better sleep.

  • Release control.

Why did God invent sleep in the first place?

Sleep reinforces the difference between us and God.

The core of all sin is believing that we are God. When we release control, we are recognizing we are not God.

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121:3b-4 NIV

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God doesn’t need to sleep and we do.

Sleep is a constant reminder that I am not God and I am not in control.

We’re not in control of other people or what happens in the world. Every 24 hours no matter who you are, we have to become like a little baby. Blind, weak, helpless, vulnerable. It’s humiliating if you fight it. It’s humbling if you embrace it. If you embrace sleep, instead of fighting it, it becomes an act of surrender.

Sleep is an act of worship.

We fight for control of our lives all day long. We fight to control the people around us and their decisions and sleep is this act of surrender and this act of worship. Many people would love to sleep more and better, but they can’t because their mind continues to race, because they haven’t trusted God with their lives.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Peace comes from trust in God.

In the Bible, there’s this time when Jesus is sleeping during a giant storm. How? Because He trusts His Father. How can we release control and trust in God?

When you google, “practical ways to fall asleep” you are going to hear in multiple places, meditate. These sources couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

How to release control: Consciously Meditate

Most of the time what the magazines and self helpers are talking about is the Buddhist or eastern religious practice, where you sit and focus on your breath. You won’t be able to focus on your breath for 20 minutes, but every time something pops into your mind other than your breath, you release it and focus on your breath again, and it works.

It’s not only an ancient Buddhist practice, it’s an ancient Christian practice as well. But the word mediation has been absolutely highjacked. The enemy can’t create anything so he distorts what God has created.

The Christian practice of meditation is a lot better, because focus on something more than your breathing. You focus on God. There are different versions of this. You can focus on a name of God, like the name Father or Provider, you pray a short prayer over and over again. One of the oldest ones is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

But again, you’re not going to be able to. You can’t even do it for 10 seconds. Other thoughts will rush in. We think that’s a bad thing, that those thoughts are the enemy. This is the breakdown in our perspective of Christian prayer and meditation. We don’t think we can rest, because we get so distracted.

Distractions aren’t the enemy, they’re the point.

When you pray, what distracts you? What other thoughts are coming in? Take those distractions and now you know what to pray about. Don’t just pray about the things you are conscious of, pray about the things that are decieving you.

Paul, a New Testament writer, told us to put on truth first, because we get deceived. So we sit there and think and distractions come pouring in…those are the things we release to God.

Don’t start worrying about it or figuring out what to do with this problem, just say, “God this is yours to deal with, I release control to you and I can’t do anything about it.”

If you do that, your sleep quality will begin to change.

  • Remember the resurrection.

One of the things about sleep is this connection it has to death. There’s an African proverb that says, “Sleep is the friend of death.”

Schopenhauer said, “Every day is a mini life. Every time you wake up it’s a mini birth, and every time you go to sleep it’s like death.”

There’s this sense in which sleep is great practice for death, because the same God you have to trust to watch over you as you sleep, is the same God you’ll have to trust in the end when you die.

The connection between sleep and death, is that there is one thing that will keep you awake at night. It’s wondering if your soul is in danger.

Remember this childhood prayer? Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

It’s a very dark prayer, but parents felt like this is where it’s at. This is the essence of peace. The essence of being able to sleep soundly is trusting God with your soul.

How do you get to the point where you trust God with your soul and not fear death?

The way the Christian is able to not fear death is by realizing that death is nothing more than sleep.

Jesus is the one who introduces this terminology. He told His disciples,

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”  John 11:11-15 NIV

After the resurrection, the early Christians figure out that his resurrection is not a one off event, but it’s actually what happens to everyone who believes, they start using the same terminology about all Christians who have died.

In the New Testament, Paul talks about different people falling asleep. We pass over that like he’s being polite, but it’s not a euphemism. It’s a very particular and profound statement of faith. We know this, because of the places it’s not used.

After Christ, the term of fallen asleep is never used for an unbeliever, someone who rejected God. For them, it’s just died. It’s over. The phrase fallen asleep is never used with respect to Christ himself. It never says Christ fell asleep, even though he was eventually raised. Why? Because Christ died the death of an unbeliever.

The thing that makes death so awful is the separation from God and in some sense, that’s the definition of death. That’s what Jesus went through. He didn’t just fall asleep. He was separated from God. He died, condemned and with sin on his shoulders. Not his own sin, but our sin.

Because He died in condemnation in our place, we don’t have to experience it. There is no final death of being separated from God. What other’s call death, is falling asleep and waking up, resurrected for a believer.

Remembering that Jesus has already died the final death of condemnation in my place enables me to sleep soundly.

If you can remember the final death of condemnation has already been undergone by someone else in your place, then it will enable you to sleep soundly.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on recognizing God’s voice and testing an impression through the Bible, Christlikeness, Godly counsel and peace?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we concluded the Frequency series with the thought, “I simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Read: Isaiah 40, Psalm 127 and John 11:1-44

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you to hear?
  2. Have you ever reached a goal and been too busy, anxious or tired to enjoy it?
  3. Have you ever made a bad or wrong decision because you were too tired or overwhelmed?
  4. How can sleep be an act of worship?
  5. How did this message change the way you think about the word meditation?
  6. When life slows down, what do you tend to worry about? Family? Money? Work?
  7. Christ died the death of an unbeliever. How can that help us to sleep soundly?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help or encourage someone else?

 

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Week 3: How Do I Navigate the Seasons of Life?

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On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Navigating the Seasons of Life.


You have to go through various seasons of life in order to grow, mature and bear fruit. God has also established seasons of human activity; relational, physical, spiritual and emotional seasons of life.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

“… everything on earth has its special season.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NCV)

Although, every person experiences different seasons throughout their life; there are 5 facts about seasons everyone can count on.


5 Facts About the Seasons of Life

  • The seasons of life are beyond my control.

You can’t control when a season happens. You can’t control when a season starts or how long it will last. Most seasons begin with an irritation, an interruption or an inconvenience. 

Waiting is a season of life. Why do we have to wait so much in life? Because much of life is out of our control. If you could control it, you wouldn’t have to wait.

God controls the times and the seasons.  He makes and unmakes kings.”  Daniel 2:21 (GN)

God sets some people up as leaders and He deposes others. God is in control of world events. It may not look like it, but He is. That’s why you shouldn’t worry about what’s going on in the world; because God is in ultimate control.

  • The seasons of life are often confusing.

Sometimes you’re in a situation and think, “Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand it.” Understanding usually follows an experience, rather than precedes it. We tend to understand the seasons of life after they’re over.

Often, when you’re in a difficult season, you’re blind to what’s really going on. Some things happen in your life that you’re never going to understand. God does not owe you an explanation. There are some things in your life that you’re not going to get an explanation for until you get to heaven, because God wants to teach you to live by faith not by explanations.

… God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NCV)

  • God has a purpose for each season.

We know that all that happens to us is working for our good IF we love God and are fitting into his plans.”  Romans 8:28 (LB)

This verse is a promise that is simply not for everybody. All things do not work together for good for everyone in the world. They only work together for good for those who love God and fit into His plans. This is one of the basic truths in the Bible. If you’re a believer, nothing comes into your life that hasn’t been filtered by your heavenly Father. Your life is not a random series of circumstances or an accident. God never does anything by accident. He has an appointed time for everything in your life. Even the bad times.

Don’t misunderstand this. God does not cause all the problems in your life. The bad times happen because you make bad decisions or because other people make bad decisions. But God doesn’t make bad things happen. God is not the author of evil. He has a purpose for each and every event in your life. Every single event, no matter how dark, how shameful, how bad, how guilty; God can bring good out of it. The Bible doesn’t say all things are good. There are a lot of bad and evil things in the world. The Bible does not say that all things are good.  It says, “All things work together for good…” for those who love and trust God and say, “God, will You work good out of this?”

  • The seasons of life include both good and bad times.

Life is full of contrasts. We go through mountains and we go through valleys. We experience success and we experience failure. We win some and we lose some. In Ecclesiastes 3 it lists 28 different life experiences.

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Life is a combination of contrasting seasons. All sunshine and no rain, makes a desert. If you are following God’s will, each of these experiences have meaning, purpose and value. All of these seasons are God’s will. Some of you think that the only time you’re in God’s will is when things are going great. But the Bible tells us there’s a time and season for everything. God can take even the bad things, in the proper season, turn them around to use them for good in the way He intends.

  • What I sow in one season, I’ll reap in another.

Every farmer knows that if you plant in the spring you will harvest in the fall. You don’t plant in the spring and get a harvest the next day. We want to do that. We want immediate results. The habits that you develop in one season of life determine the fruit you will reap in another season of life. The way you respond right now is definitely going to affect your future. If you respond correctly in one season of life or if you do the right thing even when you don’t feel like it, you will reap the dividends in the future.

Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

These are five facts about the seasons of life. So how can you make the most of each season in your life? How can you grow from it, develop in it and become all God wants you to be? Regardless of which season you’re in, there are four questions to ask yourself.


4 Questions to Ask in Each Season

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First ask yourself, “What can I learn in this season?”

Always be looking for something you can learn in each season of life. There are some things we only learn through experience. You only learn them in the school of hard knocks.

“Remember what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with Him.”  Deuteronomy 11:2 (GN)

Life is a test. Life is preparation for eternity. This life is not the big show. You’re in the warm-up act of your life right now. You’re going to live on earth 60, 70, 80 years, and then you’re going to spend the rest of your life in eternity.

God wants you to learn multiple things here before you get there. One of the things that God wants you to learn is that Christ died for you, rose for you and wants a relationship with you. After you have that relationship with Christ, God wants you to learn certain character qualities which you will take with you into eternity. That’s all you’re going to take into heaven. In all of these seasons, there is an important lesson to learn. To make the most of the seasons in life, you’ve got to extract those lessons.

When you’re going through a difficult season, don’t ask, “Why is this happening?” Instead ask, “Lord, what do You want me to learn?” God never wastes a hurt and He never wastes a season. He wants you to learn something out of everything that happens in your life.

Two facts about the school of life experience:

1.  If you flunk a test in the school of life experience, you get to take it over.

God will keep giving you the test until you learn it. Have you learned to be patient?  No. Then God will put you in irritating circumstances until you learn patience.

2.  Just about the time you think you’ve graduated, you learn there are more classes to take.

There will always be more lessons to learn about God, about yourself, about other people, and about the world.

“(This happened) … so we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but God…”  2 Corinthians 1:9 (Ph)

The next 2 questions go together. Ask yourself, “What can I enjoy in this season?” and “What is most important in this season?”

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Some people are always getting ready to be happy. When work picks up or the business slows down or you finish this report or when you’re feeling better; that’s when you’ll be happy. But the Bible says not to wait to enjoy life, enjoy it right now.

“People ought to enjoy every day of their lives.”  Ecclesiastes 11:8 (NCV)

“Give thanks in all circumstances; this is God’s will for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

The good days, the bad days, the hard days, the easy days are all to be lived with a sense of gratitude because each day has been given to us by God.

There are two fallacies that we hold on to in life. One of them is “I’ve got lots of time.” There’s plenty of time to spend with my kids, lots of time to build my marriage, lots of time to serve God, I’ve got years to make my life count. The Bible says that rather than having lots of time, our life is like a puff of smoke, a vapor, a mist… and then it’s gone. That means the sooner we learn what really counts in life, the sooner we’ll get on with what’s really important to enjoy making the most out of that particular season.

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Another fallacy we operate under is “I can have it all. Right now.” I can have it all, be it all, do it all – right now. I can have a great family, a great job, lots of money, good health, good looks. I can do it all. Right now.” The truth is, you can’t. You have to make choices. 

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

I’ve got to make some choices. Maybe this season I can have this and that season I can have that, but for each season I need to know what’s important. I want to talk for a moment about how this relates to parenting. Most of us are not very good at enjoying the moment.

“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.  Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties these days.”   Ephesians 5:15-16 (Ph)

The Bible says that we are to enjoy each season of our life because each season is unique. What we tend to do is look back at the past and we either think “It was so great back then. I wish that were still going on in my life.” Or we have regrets about our mistakes and we spend too much time worrying about the past. We find ourselves looking at the future wondering, “What will happen to my children? What happens when I retire? What happens when my kids leave and I’m alone?” We worry about the future. We ignore the fact that it’s this moment that I am living in; not what was or what might be, but what is right now. The Bible says to enjoy every season of your life.

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The fourth question to ask yourself is, “How can I help others in this season?”

What good can I do during this season? The Bible says very clearly that you weren’t put on this earth just to live for yourself. It’s not about you.  

“You were created for a life of good works.” Ephesians 2:10

God gave you abilities, talents and energy to help other people. A lot of us plan on doing that “when things settle down”. You plan on getting into a ministry or get involved in church when things settle down. Things are not going to settle down! 

So are you doing the good works that God created you to do or are you spending all your time, energy, and effort on yourself? In every season of life, you have unique opportunities to help other people that you will never have again. If you miss it, when the season’s over, you will never again be able to help people in that way, because you’re not in that season anymore.

“Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help.”  Proverbs 3:27 (NCV)

There’s no better time than now to serve God and help other people. Most people are miserable in life because they spend all their time regretting the past or future, so they miss the present. The secret of happiness in every season is in serving God and serving others because you were wired, by God, to do that.

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”  Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB)

God wants to use the season you’re in right now to help other people. Do something good this week. If you’ve never joined the church, take that step of spiritual growth. Get involved, grow in your faith, discover your ministry. Do those things and watch what God does in your life. Start taking advantage of the season you’re in right now. Look for lessons to learn, experiences to enjoy, things to be grateful for, priorities that need to be set and people you can help.

Make this season count!


Check Back

Review what you talked about last week.

How would you describe your success or struggles in avoiding people pleasing?

To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.

Application

Read Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

Which season from Ecclesiastes 3 are you currently in?

What have you learned in this season?

What do you enjoy the most about this season?

What priorities have you had to adjust in this season?

How have you been able to help others in this season?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Is there anyone in your life who is going through a difficult season?

How could you encourage them and show them how much you love them? How could you point them to Christ?

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